Tips for pitching a VDI project to upper management

What might look good to IT on paper might not look so good to upper management, so do your homework before pitching a VDI project to higher-ups.

Perhaps the most difficult part of any VDI project is getting approval and funding from upper management, but it's often the most critical.

Management tends to be reluctant to approve any IT project that they perceive as being too expensive or too radical a change. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to improve your odds of getting your VDI project approved.

Anticipate their questions

As you work to come up with the perfect pitch, try to think of the questions you might be asked. Not having an immediate answer to management's questions can make you look unprepared.

Some of the questions are easy to anticipate. For instance, you can be relatively certain that they will ask you how much the project will cost and how long it will take to implement. You might also be asked some questions that aren't quite so obvious. For instance, they might wonder what the organization should do with all the computer hardware that is being phased out.

The key to being able to answer these types of questions is to think the project through before you make the pitch.

Answer confidently

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when pitching your VDI project is to show a lack of confidence. Imagine for a moment that you are the boss and someone came to you asking for money to implement a big project. Now imagine that when you start asking tough questions that person acts nervous or tries to avoid answering ones about the cost of VDI or anything else. Those reactions probably would not make you feel very good about the project.

The point is that if you can't show confidence in your own idea, you can't expect anyone else to feel good about the plan either. A lack of confidence during the pitch will almost always result in having the project denied.

Think like the people you're pitching to

When you are planning your VDI pitch, try to get into the heads of the people you're pitching the project to. For example, if you know that one of the higher-ups is keen on cloud outsourcing, you can expect that person to ask how the VDI implementation will affect the organization's goals of moving resources to the cloud.

If possible, try to tie your VDI pitch into other things that you know are important to the higher-ups. If you know that one of them has been spending a lot of time getting ready for a compliance audit, then make sure to emphasize how VDI will help make compliance easier.

Don't treat VDI as new or trendy

When you are pitching VDI, try not to make the technology sound like it's new or as if VDI adoption is the trendy thing to do (even if it is). To an IT professional, new technology might sound cool or fun, but upper management often sees things differently. They often equate new technology with less desirable adjectives, such as expensive or unreliable, and if you want to implement VDI just because it's trendy, then they may perceive the whole project as an expensive toy.

Cite statistics

It's one thing to tell management about the benefits of VDI, but it's quite another to back up those claims with statistics. For instance, don't just say that VDI will reduce desktop management costs. Explain how much of a savings they can realistically expect as well as where you are getting your information. For example, you might cite a case study in which a similar organization achieved a significant savings or you might use a statistic from a reputable industry analyst.

Overestimate the costs

More tips for VDI success

Reasons VDI projects fail

Pilot project guide for VDI

How to prevent VDI from stalling

When pitching a project, it may be tempting to low-ball the cost estimate. However, it is better to overestimate the costs. After all, it's never any fun having to ask for more money, and you really don't want to be known as the person who can't finish a project on budget. Overestimating the cost from the beginning gives you some cushion against overruns and means you might even complete the project under budget.

Ultimately, there is no such thing as a pitch that guarantees acceptance for your project. Even so, following these steps may improve your chances of success.

This was first published in August 2013

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